A pre-war Alfa Romeo has won – for the second time – at this year’s 68th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the US.
The 1937 8C 2900B, with a Berlinetta body by Carrozzeria Touring, first won its class – Most Elegant Closed Car - at Pebble Beach in 2001. Seventeen years later, following changes in ownership and a thorough restoration by the current custodian, the Alfa not only won the Most Elegant Closed Car award again, but also picked up the Charles A. Chayne Trophy and the coveted Best of Show award.
In claiming the top trophy, the Alfa Romeo beat out a 1929 Duesenberg J Murphy Town Limousine and a 1948 Talbot-Lago Grand Sport with a fastback coupe body by Figoni.
Prestige Plus. One of the most elite concours events in the world, the combined value of the cars on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance regularly runs into the tens of millions of dollars. The event, held on the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, attracts significant cars from all over the world.
For example, the second-runner-up in Best of Show this year came from the Czech Republic, with cars from Singapore, Israel, Germany, Spain, India and even China on the field this year. Australia was represented, too, with Sydneysider Alan Tribe displaying his 1939 Lagonda V12 Rapide with a drophead coupe body by James Young.
Displaying at Pebble Beach is strictly an invitation-only affair, though. While any vehicle owner can submit an entry, it’s the Concours Selection Committee that actually decide the cars that will be displayed on the immaculately-kept golf course.
Each year, the 15-member committee made up of industry experts goes through a detailed vetting process that takes months and sees around 1,000 vehicles reviewed to determine the final concours field. This year, that invited field was made up of 209 prestige and significant cars from 17 countries.
While there are common categories each year, like the aforementioned ‘Most Elegant’ class, along with Veteran, American and European Classic, Open and Closed Car, Preservation, etc., a rotating roster of themes and special classes keeps the event fresh and attracts new and unusual cars.
This year, the special classes included postwar custom Citroen (a Pebble Beach first), Tucker, Rollston coachwork, Vintage Sporting Cars, OSCA, Cars of the Raj era in India, Indy Cars of the 1960s and American ‘dream convertibles’ of the Eisenhower era.
The Alpha Alfa. “This Alfa Romeo 8C 2.9 has all that one would wish for in a car—speed, style and, frankly, sex appeal,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button of this year’s Best of Show winner. “The Touring styling is simply magical, and to top it off, it makes all the right noises!”
Essentially a detuned version of Alfa’s 8C 2900 race car, the 8C 2900B debuted in 1937, following the 8C 2900A, which was also based on the racer and built for road use. Where the 2900A featured a 164kW (220hp) version of the racer’s supercharged 2.9-litre six-cylinder engine, the 2900B dialled it down even further, to 134kW (180hp), but that was still powerful for its day, with the bonus being that it improved reliability, too.
One of ten 2900Bs built on the longer wheelbase ‘Lungo’ chassis, the Best of Show winner was also one of only five to have a Berlinetta body fitted by Touring. Numerous detail differences, like a steeper rake to the grille and the absence of running boards, also define this car against the handful that followed.
Displayed at the Paris and Milan Auto Shows in 1937, then the 1938 Berlin Motor Show, this car – chassis #412020 - was also photographed for Alfa Romeo promotional literature at the time, but its story becomes clouded after that. The car is believed to have spent the war years in Germany, surviving unscathed, then going to the UK in the early 1950s, before being purchased by an American enthusiast in 1956.
Spending time in both Europe and the US in different hands in the decades that followed, the 8C 2900B was restored in the 1990s, but given a more comprehensive restoration to its 1938 Berlin Motor Show appearance by current owner, David Sydorick.
A longtime Pebble Beach entrant, Sydorick is better known in the high-end classic car community for his collection of Zagatos, so the Touring-bodied pre-war car was a departure. However, the Beverly Hills-based enthusiast says the Touring Berlinetta is something special: “It’s a piece of automotive architecture mounted on a Grand Prix chassis that has technology that was top of the line for pre-war cars.”
Future Show. While celebrating cars of the past, Pebble Beach also looks to the future, with the unveiling of new production and concept cars from premium marques like Ferrari, Maserati, BMW and Rolls-Royce now a regular part of the event.
This year’s Concours also saw the presentation of a number of new luxury and hypercars from specialist manufacturers like SSC, Singer and Salaff. EV manufacturer Byton made Pebble Beach history as the first Chinese automotive brand to display at the event. Further details and a full list of concours winners can be viewed at: pebblebeachconcours.net
Photos: Kimball Studios, Sherman Chu, courtesy of Pebble Beach Concours